Great Karoo, Eastern Cape

Great Karoo, Eastern Cape

Things to do - general

There’s a pioneering feel to life in the Karoo, immense distances, grand mountains and that dry semi-desert climate with crisp cold winters and baking hot summers. It’s far from the madding crowd and easy to find yourself the only ones in the huge landscapes, with just the company of a herd of klipspringer. The Little Karoo, traversed by the famous Route 62 through the picturesque towns of Montagu, Barrydale, Calitzdorp, Oudtshoorn and De Rust, is still farming country with rainfall on the Swartberg mountain range keeping streams flowing, but over the impressive Swartberg Pass to Prince Albert at the start of the Great Karoo, the landscape gets even wilder with large nature reserves and long distances between the few towns such as Beaufort West and Graaff Reinet.

It’s road trip country, with dramatic passes, stunning mountain ranges and vast open skies, but it’s also a place to disconnect from the busy outside world, get off the grid and just soak up the wild. Springbok, gemsbok and kudu, Cape mountain zebra bring the landscapes to life and staying on a nature reserve you’ll see even more, perhaps even a rare sight the aardvark.

Be prepared for extremes of temperatures, even winter days can get hot, before temperatures plummet to zero and you cosy up beside a log fire for the evening. A plunge pool and siestas In the shade are the best way to while away hot summer afternoons, until evening brings the cool. Winter is the perfect time for energetic hikes and mountain biking, spring sees the landscapes transformed by colourful spring flowers and the peace and tranquility of another age pervades the air the whole year round. Plus there’s a reason the South African Astronomical Observatory is at Sutherland in the far reaches of the Karoo, the skies are so clear and that the stars are brighter and more visible here than anywhere else, perfect for evenings by the fire-pit, chatting and star-gazing well into the night.

22º East

22º East

Nr Prince Albert, Karoo3 / 10
There is something irresistible about spending time in the middle of nowhere. It feeds the soul and More info
Camp Karoo

Camp Karoo

Kleinpoort, Eastern Cape
There’s nothing quite like it: Camp Karoo completes the African farmhouse romance – in utter comfort More info
Karoo Cottage

Karoo Cottage

Sneeuberg Nature Reserve
Karoo Cottage is part of the Sneeuberg Nature Reserve and is just a few kms from Kliphuis. The two c More info
Kliphuis

Kliphuis

Sneeuberg Nature Reserve
Kliphuis is situated in the heart of the great Karoo under the Sneeuberg mountain range just an hour More info
Longhouse

Longhouse

Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape
A long, low 19th-century house faces the back of Spandau Kop, in a corner of Graaff-Reinet where the More info
Mount Camdeboo Manor

Mount Camdeboo Manor

Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape
A mystical space in the very heart of the Great Karoo, Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve offers wo More info
Olive Farm

Olive Farm

Nr Prince Albert, Karoo
The Karoo desert holds a special kind of African charm. Far from the concrete and hurry of urban lif More info
Swartberg House

Swartberg House

Nr Prince Albert, Karoo
During summer in Prince Albert, a little, old fashioned Karoo town just off the N1 about four hours More info
The Poplars

The Poplars

Sneeuberg Nature Reserve
The Poplars is an old farmhouse in the Great Karoo, about an hour from Graaff-Reinet on the 15 000-h More info
Thorn Springs

Thorn Springs

Middelburg, Eastern Cape
Beneath the branches of weeping willows and the expansive reach of the Karoo sky lies Thorn Springs, More info